U.S. and U.K. Won’t Send F-16s…For Now – Kyiv has not been shy about its hopes to receive F-16 fighter jets from the United States and other Western allies, but this week, both the White House and 10 Downing Street confirmed that there are currently no plans to send advanced fighter jets to Ukraine.
F-16 Fighters for Ukraine?
U.S. President Joe Biden confirmed on Monday that he will not be sending planes to Ukraine, telling a reporter at the White House “no” when asked if that was his plan.
On Tuesday, a Downing Street spokesperson said that sending the jets – some of the most advanced jets used by Western militaries – is simply not practical.
“These are sophisticated pieces of equipment. We do not think it is practical to send those jets into Ukraine,” the spokesperson said.
Downing Street also denied claims that the British government isn’t sending F-16s to Ukraine over fears that the Royal Air Force didn’t have enough available to send.
John Kirby Defends Move
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby defended the White House’s decision not to send the jets to Ukraine, insisting that they are not necessary for Ukraine to win the war – even with a new Russian offensive looming.
“What I can tell you is that there’s a lot of capability that is being sent, and will be sent in the coming weeks and months,” Kirby said in a Monday interview with CNN.
“The kinds of capabilities that we know will be critical to helping Ukrainians again in the fighting now in the wintertime, as well as the kind of fighting that we expect that they’re going to be doing in the spring.”
Ukraine Will Keep Lobbying for F-16
While the news may be a setback for the Ukrainians, the news that the United States will send dozens of M1 Abrams battle tanks and more than one hundred more Bradley fighting vehicles is still good news for Kyiv.
Not only is the delivery of Western tanks a huge plus for Ukraine at a time when Russia is struggling to produce new advanced tanks at a sufficiently rapid rate, but it is the culmination of months of lobbying European leaders and President Joe Biden to deliver more advanced weaponry.
In response to comments from the White House and Downing Street, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that the answer may change in the future.
“All types of assistance at the beginning went through the ‘np’ stage. This means ‘no’ as of today,” Reznikov said.
Ukraine is likely, therefore, to continue lobbying for the fighter jets – and could well receive them in a matter of months if Russia’s rumored springtime offensive comes to fruition.
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Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.
January 31, 2023 at 9:22 pm
This is a good decision, you fight a war with the Army you have now, not the Army you wish you had. It would take years of effort to build a Western Air Force in Ukraine, effort that is better spent fighting the war now. Ukraine is going to suffer a hit to its logistics with all Western tanks and armored vehicles it will soon receive. A Western Air Force would just exacerbate the problem sucking up logistical resources better used to service the frontlines.
January 31, 2023 at 10:39 pm
He also said this about Abrams and Bradleys. Give it time. Once Ukraine shows that it can use the tanks effectively and not lose any to Russia, Biden will rethink it.
February 2, 2023 at 8:38 pm
F-16 (or like) impossible. I takes an American Fighter Pilot a year to fully train/transition/qualify in same. F-16 Maintenance men take as long or longer. Logistics establishment/provisioning…? In addition US jets with few exceptions aren’t designed to operate from austere location… unlike those of Ruskies.
Totally unrealistic…not unlike the highly unreliable Abrams gas guzzler. But that another story…
February 10, 2023 at 6:11 pm
I firmly believe that an initial “ghost squadron” of A-10s would suffice. Clear civilian roadways and then do night operations at low level with flir and thermal sighting. Disperse the squadron in such a way as to be flight ready, but maintain independent sortie capabilities. A-10s are easy to hide, and easy to fly, and easy to maintain, and easy to land on a public roadway’ and are deadly as….